Young adults affiliated with Diplomas Now work in designated middle schools to encourage better attendance and tutor students. At Aki Kurose Middle School in South Seattle, City Year staffers Margo Kelly, left, Anna Witte and Ti’esh Harper talk with seventh-grader Jade Bland at the attendance window. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times 2013.
The din surrounding education reform often fails to recognize forces that significantly affect student achievement, but happen outside the classroom. You can strengthen teacher quality, overhaul curricula or throw open the doors to school choice, yet research shows that if kids are frightened, hungry or depressed, they cannot learn as well.
These are austere times, so understanding that common-sense reality is not enough. Legislators want data to justify any funding decision. Into the breach wades Child Trends, a non-partisan nonprofit that for 30 years has been evaluating research on what works for kids.
Last week, the Bethesda, Md., -based think tank released a report measuring the effects of so-called “integrated student supports” — the services that link students to mental health counseling, tutoring, food banks and the like. Such programs are widespread, serving more than 1.5 million young people in nearly 3,000 schools across the country.
The largest, Communities in Schools, operates in more than 2,000 buildings, including Seattle’s.